Follow site map to find arts ‘gold’

Posted Aug. 03, 2009, at 5:04 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:25 a.m.

The Maine Fiberarts Tour Map is now available to guide visitors to fiber studios and farms open statewide Friday through Sunday, Aug. 7-9.

Imagine a map that leads you to a farm where cashmere is raised, to a spinnery where yarns are dyed and spun, to a shop where baskets are made by hand or to the studios where artists work.

Maine Fiberarts Tour Map: Studios and Farms is a 24-inch-by-36-inch, full-color, illustrated map listing 130 fiber art studios, farms, craft centers, supply shops and galleries statewide. The map can be used to plan self-guided trips through 2012. Free maps may be obtained at Maine State Visitor Information Centers, participating sites, chambers of commerce, Amtrak Bus Terminal, Portland International Jetport and at Maine Fiberarts, 13 Main St., Topsham. Maps also can be mailed to inquirers for a small fee by calling 721-0678.

As an added attraction, more than 100 sites listed on the map will be open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Aug. 7-9, for Maine Fiber Arts Tour Weekend at the height of the state’s summer season. During the three-day weekend, sites will offer demonstrations, workshops, studio tours, children’s crafts and farm visits.

Weekend activities are detailed online at www.mainefiberarts.org and include a gathering of embroiderers in Minot, new baby alpacas on a farm in Waldo, basketry workshops offered on Long Island, a Kumihimo braiding demonstration in Brunswick, a hand-felted yurt in Garland, and rug hooking and netting on Vinalhaven. Displays of antique spinning wheels, handspun yarns, art quilts, collectible crafts and freshly shorn fleeces all can be found along the fiber trail.

An interactive tour map has been posted at www.mainefiberarts.org, with driving directions, map markers, Web links and contact information for each site. A listing of craft demonstrations offered during the Fiber Arts Tour Weekend has been posted to help people plan their own itineraries.

The fiber scene is popular in Maine and includes artists working with fabric, collage, thread, paint or paper. These artists paint quilts, stitch books, coil baskets, felt masks and knit sculpture. Small farms producing mohair, alpaca, llama and wool are also a part of this scene. Curious travelers can find wool sweaters, handspun yarns, and other handmade collectibles or experience craft demonstrations, working studios, or farm chores firsthand.

The tour map presents both the makers and the producers a chance to open their doors and be discovered.

“We had great enthusiasm for the tour in 2006 and are pleased to produce a new tour map,” said Christine Macchi, executive director of Maine Fiberarts. “Last time, map participants sold artwork, took commissions for hooked rugs, introduced community members to farm animals and products, talked shopped and made some long-lasting contacts. With the greater emphasis on ‘buying green and local,’ we anticipate even larger crowds taking the tour this time.”

The tour map is made possible by funding from Maine Community Foundation, Maine Office of Tourism, National Endowment for the Arts, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, SARE Northeast Region, The Betterment Fund, and Thomas W. Haas.

Visitors may learn more about Maine’s fiber scene by visiting Maine Fiberarts in Topsham. A statewide nonprofit organization formed in the year 2000, the center houses revolving exhibitions, photo libraries, event notices, informative newsletters and other visuals to introduce the public to Maine fiber art and farms. On view at the Maine Fiberarts through Aug. 31 is “Intricacies: Knitwear, Beading and Surface Design” by Nan Heldenbrand Morrissette.

For information about the Maine Fiberarts Tour Map, call or visit 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays at 13 Main St., Topsham, call 721-0678 or e-mail fiberarts@gwi.net.

Snippets

A By Hand reader wrote to add the film “Sarah Plain and Tall” to the list of films that make reference to knitting and sheep.

Another reader said that one her favorite films is Mel Brooks’ “The History of the World” which features a scene of a woman in ragged clothing clicking two knitting needles together. When someone comments that she has no yarn, she replies, “Oh, I ran out of that years ago.”

The Dancing Blanket Studio will be open to the public 10-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Aug. 7-9, Two Fox Farm Drive, Thomaston. Cynthia McGuirl will demonstrate hand weaving on a 16-harness dobby loom and talk about the process of creating wearable art. The event is part of the statewide Fiber Arts Tour Weekend sponsored by Maine Fiberarts. For more information, call 354-0929 or visit www.dancingblanket.com and www.mainefiberarts.org.

The Seal Harbor Library is selling raffle tickets for this hooked rug made by local designer Melina White. “Harbor View” measures 2 feet by 3 feet. The winning ticket will be drawn Labor Day weekend. Tickets are $5 each or four for $20, and are available 9 a.m.-noon Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 3:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets also will be sold at the Seal Harbor Library Fair on Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Village Green. Proceeds from the raffle benefit the library. For more information, call the library at 276-5306.

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